Axel-In-Charge: Recapping "Avengers Standoff's" Major Developments, Preparing for "Punisher"
Welcome back to two of your favorite Comics Should be Good bloggers geeking out over alternate reality X-Men fun! “The Age of X Dialogues” where Kelly Thompson and I discuss every issue of the “Age of X” storyline. We continue this week with X-Men Legacy #246.
Chad Nevett: Things are getting more exciting in “Age of X” with X-Men Legacy #246! The hunt for Legacy/Reaper was surprisingly better than I thought it would be and had one hell of an ending. I’m not sure what’s going on anymore — not that I knew to begin with. But, this issue seemed like one where Mike Carey purposefully took what we knew and tossed some it aside, shifting gears a bit, while still continuing on from where he began. Something has begun and it’s up to the two most changed X-Men (and, from what we know, the two soon to be at odds) to figure out what’s wrong… I don’t know, for an issue that was one big chase scene, I really enjoyed this. Enough of my vague allusions, what did you think?
Kelly Thompson: Yeah, this was my favorite issue yet, by far. I was worried that you’d be put off by some of what I am still loving (more Legacy/Rogue!) so I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well. So far we’ve got an interesting thing happening, where what’s really going on has still not been revealed and so we’re still guessing and hypothesizing, but it doesn’t feel like it’s spinning its wheels pointlessly. Rather, I feel we’re being driven at a breakneck pace (is it possible to have breakneck but enjoyable?) toward answers and I’m loving it. We’re getting these great hints that I feel confident more and more with each issue are going to deliver big time. I’ll also say that, though I stand by my opinion of the first issue (Age of X Alpha #1) and the feelings I had about wishing the conflict was more clear from go, Carey has made it patently obvious why more clarity going in wouldn’t have worked for this particular story. The crux of the story is in fact “where are we?” and “why are we?” and “how are we?” and as I said before, so long as he can deliver that, then I’m with him.
I agree that this issue was a chase/hunt issue, which could have felt like shiny pretty tasteless filler, but instead did two of my favorite things in comics. First – one of my favorite things in superhero stories – which is to use character superpowers in interesting and new ways. Secondly – one of my favorite things in alternate reality stories – which is turn relationships on their ear but in smart believable ways.
To that end, I confess my lil’ 16 year-old fangirl heart went pitter-pat when Remy came to Legacy’s (Rogue’s) aid.
CN: That made my eyes roll… until Magneto killed them both. I’m one of those people who hate the whole Rogue/Gambit thing, so Carey paying it a little lip service before just dropping a pile of wreckage atop them made me laugh. I probably won’t be lucky enough to have their deaths carry over into the regular Marvel universe, will I?
Magneto here came off as both ‘sinister’ in a way and as a man who’s been backed into a corner. It’s like he’s watched slowly as everything he tried to build has become twisted and all he can do is continue to fight for it, because the alternative is to admit that he failed. It’s an interesting take on the character. The way that X runs things and the focus on the Force Warriors in the way Moira talks to Magneto gives the impression of a man who’s slowly lost his power and place at the center of things. As the ‘general,’ we’ve only really seen him direct traffic and get talked down to by Danger. The way he deals with matters in this issue seems like he’s reminding everyone that he built Fortress X and he’s still the major power. There are some shades of previous depictions of Magneto there while remaining distinct enough. His final bits of narration are so sad: “If I ever had a nobler dream — a wider ambition… / I threw it into the fire… / and watched it burn.” This is a guy who hates what’s created and has no choice but to stand by it.
And I’m wondering how much more of that we’ll get. I would love it if Magneto is shunted to the side again, that his sadness and failure remain a small piece of the overall picture. The smash cut to Logan and Basilisk preparing to pick up where Legacy left off makes for a good juxtaposition as we see an unhappy Magneto who has accomplished what he always wanted, to be the mutant savior/leader, and found it wanting put up against the two mutants who have been gone from the top to the bottom in many ways.
KT: Everyone mark it down all official like, Chad Nevett never ever possessed a lil’ 16 year-old fangirl heart! Although the action and the end of the issue does suggest Legacy and Gambit are dead, the preview cover art for New Mutants #23 is of a very not-dead Legacy and Magneto…so…are we SURE she’s dead? That said, it would hold with Carey’s claim that the focus was going to shift off of Legacy, so I suspect she is. I hate misleading cover art!
I agree that the take on Magneto is really good…a great skew for an alternate reality character that’s both compelling and believable. I also really liked that Magneto narration you quoted, in fact I think throughout this was really well-written, with no obvious missteps that threw us like last time. There were a few places where I felt genuinely moved by Carey’s writing, which I’m sorry to say happens far too infrequently for me in comics these days.
I too loved seeing Logan and Scott together, they’re a great team-up for me, full of potential. That’s such a complicated relationship in the existing reality that there are a lot of great places Carey can go with it. Probably my favorite mini-reveal of the issue was Logan’s comment about “everyone knows there’s no mutant powers can affect the mind”. That was just such a great line, after seeing Xavier and Emma and The Cukoos all trussed up in the basement last issue. I love that shit.
CN: Logan’s line confirms something that we’ve seen alluded to with all of the telepaths in Danger’s prison: as far as most of the mutants are concerned, there is no such thing as a telepath. So, what’s going on then? It’s a clue that raises more questions than it answers. Is one telepath responsible for this reality and, to keep it from being revealed as a sham, has imprisoned the rest? Is it the work of a non-telepath that needs telepaths locked away so they can’t break the illusion? Or, is there simply something about this world that makes telepaths unstable and dangerous, requiring that they be locked away? There are some interesting possibilities, none that seem more likely than the others. It’s something that Carey has done very well: given the sense that the story is advancing by providing information, but also providing information that just raises more questions. We’re three issues in and it feels like things have advanced a lot and, yet, we still have no idea what’s going on. I’m impressed he’s been able to walk that line.
We didn’t discuss the art a whole lot last time. I enjoy Clay Mann’s work here, but it doesn’t do a lot for me either. It has that generic quality to it where things look fine, but very little stays with me. If I try to think about the art, I have a generic impression of what it looks like and very few lasting images. The only thing that sticks with me is Magneto’s helmet, which is all kinds of awesome.
KT: I definitely agree about Carey’s nice turn walking the line by introducing new questions as he provides us with information that seemingly answers others. I hate it when a story only drives forward with more and more mysteries and never seems to take the time to address any mysteries that we’ve already encountered. I don’t need everything answered right away of course, but I like to be discovering interesting answers while new questions are raised, rather than the kind of “Lost effect” where we just get more and more questions and no answers. I kind of have this problem with Morning Glories actually…even though I like it. Anyway, yes, I agree that Carey is balancing the questions and answers nicely. I’m impressed.
I’m a BIG Clay Mann fan. I like his art more every time I see it. I can see why it wouldn’t necessarily blow you away, but reliable, consistent artwork with clear easy to follow, well-paced storytelling, and good character work that is respectful of character personality is surprisingly rare. So when I see someone doing all of that at once, I’m pretty sold, and if it can be this pretty at the same time, all the better! Additionally, at a time when some X-artists are tarting up the ladies of X with alarming regularity (even ladies of X that are not named Emma Frost) I have to admit that Mann’s handling of female characters really pleases me – which doesn’t mean they don’t look sexy and strong – they do, but they also look really accurate to who I believe they are as characters. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I love the way he draws Rogue. As a side note, I’ve always hated Dazzler and yet Mann’s redesign of her for this is really intriguing to me, and I finally found myself wishing we’d see a little more of her. Of course if Carey writes her like everyone else seems to then I’ll probably still hate her, but at least I’ll enjoy looking at her!
CN: I do enjoy the art, it’s just not the sort to stay with me.
Is there anything else left to discuss with this issue? Every time I think about that final scene, I can’t wait for the next chapter of this story, which is in two weeks and, then, Age of X Universe #1 drops the following week. I still very curious to see how that title plays out, but Carey has finally made me care more about the main plot than the chance to see new alternate reality characters in the form of the Avengers (a franchise I like a lot more than the X-Men). So, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
KT: Yeah, agreed 100%. I don’t think I really have anything else to add, except to say that the more I think about this issue the more I like it. In fact, I would say it’s easily one of the best X-books I’ve read in the past year. I’m excited for New Mutants #23 in two weeks.
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